Child Rearing in America: Challenges Facing Parents with Young Children

Child Rearing in America: Challenges Facing Parents with Young Children

Child Rearing in America: Challenges Facing Parents with Young Children

Child Rearing in America: Challenges Facing Parents with Young Children

Synopsis

This timely volume presents a rich picture of the lives of parents with young children in the U.S. Using the first national survey on parents with young children, a diverse group of scholars present new information about what parents do, the economic and social challenges they face, and the resources they use to improve their children's health and development. The analyses and insights provided by this book will be invaluable for policy makers as well as others involved in public health, social work, law, medicine, psychology, sociology, and child development.

Excerpt

The well-being of young children has become a popular topic as expansions of knowledge in the neuro- and behavioral sciences have documented the importance of the first three years in children's long-term learning, behavior, and health. Recent scholarly books and national research conferences have examined these issues from a variety of perspectives. In 1997, the National Academy of Sciences convened a three-year, multidisciplinary commission to examine and report on the science of early childhood. In 1999, RAND issued Investing in Our Children, which documented the benefits and savings associated with targeted early intervention programs. In 1996, 1997, and 2000, Time and Newsweek devoted entire special issues to the development of the young child. In 1997, the White House hosted conferences on childcare and on early child development and learning. Federal agencies have signaled their interest by expanding data collection on the early life predictors of educational success and supporting expansions of the Head Start program for children from birth to age 3. Numerous states have initiated aggressive early childhood agendas, focusing on childcare, health care, universal preschool, home visiting, and family support (Cauthen et al. 2000). All these efforts are evidence of a recognition of the importance of early child experience and a growing commitment to public policy that fosters the healthy development of our youngest children.

The burgeoning focus on early childhood issues in the United States must also be understood in a broader context of concern expressed by the American public about children and their families. Recent polling data from Public Agenda suggest that 82 percent of Americans believe it is harder to be a child today than in past years. By a margin of almost two to one, Americans believe that most parents face times when they really need help raising their children (Public Agenda 1997). The current domestic . . .

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